Challenges of Telehealth So far
For a practice born in 1968, we should have had far more penetration of the American healthcare system from telemedicine, right?
For context, Intel was born in 1968, and today it is worth $240 billion. This begs the question: what is keeping telemedicine back?
Several factors are restraining the adoption of telemedicine today. First, there are still technological barriers associated with broadband.
Feel free to be embarrassed that 34 million Americans do not have adequate broadband internet access, with about 40% of that number situated in rural interiors.
Therefore, there is a significant digital divide between urban America and these rural areas. Effective telemedicine requires a reasonable bandwidth for top-notch video quality and image resolution.
But we will be wrong to heap all the blame on technology. Regulations have not helped matters. In the early days of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), licensing wasn’t a major problem.
This was because the majority of telemedicine systems ran their operation from one state. This is a huge deviation from what we have today, where we have multistate systems operating multistate practices.
Licensing is becoming more challenging with the migration of major healthcare providers into a national system. But the problems exceed just licensing.
Telemedicine adoption has been constrained by practice regulations where many state medical boards declare patients must physically meet the physician before any telemedicine service is initiated.